Visiting Machu Picchu is a bucket-list moment for many people. It is the day that many dream of and however you get there, make sure you have planned the day the right way. As part of our guide to Machu Picchu, we have put together our top tips for making the most of your day.
1. Pack Snacks
Apart from vending machines and an overpriced restaurant at the entry to the site, food options are quite limited. Pack a couple of snacks in your daypack for something to keep you going.
2. Drink lots of water
A tip for tackling the high altitude is to stay hydrated. In high altitude, sweat evaporates as fast as it forms so you may not realise when you start to get dehydrated. Drinking lots of water will also help with the headaches or nausea you might be feeling as a result of the thinner air.
3. But don’t drink too much water
The only toilets at Machu Picchu are at the entrance to the site and a good 15 minutes walk from that famous viewpoint every traveller wants to take photos of. There’s nothing more frustrating than having to turn back for the bathrooms so pace yourself with that water bottle.
4. Book a guide in advance
There is so much more to Machu Picchu than what is written in the guidebooks and it’s important to get a deeper insight into the region by hiring a guide to take you round. The best local guides get booked up in advance as their knowledge and language skills are much sought after. There are also plenty of guides touting their services at the entry point but make sure they are certified and you agree on a price beforehand.
5. In fact, book everything in advance
If you are an experienced traveller, it can be quite tempting to rock up in Cuzco and book everything once you are there. But the train tickets to Machu Picchu can and do book out in advance, especially in peak season. You also need to consider whether you want to hike to Machu Picchu and some trails book out up to 6 months in advance.
6. Pack layers for Machu Picchu
The weather at Machu Picchu can change quickly and it is important to be prepared for rain or shine. Early in the morning, Machu Picchu can boast the clearest skies but cloud cover often appears intermittently as the day goes on. The high altitude also means that it will be much colder than on the coast in Lima.
7. Wear comfortable shoes
This should go without saying but the number of people on Machu Picchu wearing heels (or even stilettos) is quite baffling. Machu Picchu is a big site. There are uphill climbs, steep steps and cobblestones to navigate. Trainers or hiking shoes are ideal and will allow you to enjoy the day best.
8. Bring your passport
You need to present your passport with your ticket at the entry to Machu Picchu. Your entry ticket is directly linked to your passport so if your passport expires and you have to get a new one, you must bring your old expired passport with you. There is also a small machine where you can get your passport stamped with a mini-Machu Picchu.
9) Leave your tripods & walking sticks at home
While everyone wants to take that perfect shot, new rules ban all tripods and walking sticks from the park. The authorities have introduced this to prevent wear and tear. There are small lockers located at the entry to the park.